If I lived to be 120 years old and someone said to me, “You’ve served the Lord since you were 16. Now that you’re older, what is the most important advice you can give to God’s people for their life on earth in the light of the horrendous darkness and need of our world?”
My answer would be very simple: “Be broken.”
Though I am only in my 60s, there is no greater truth I have learned in my journey with the Lord than the significance of embracing the life of brokenness. When it comes to our usefulness in God’s work, the greatest problem that keeps us away from the life God has for us is not our failure, sin or lack of ability, but it’s our stubbornness and lack of brokenness. God cannot work through an individual who is proud, defiant and self-sufficient.
King David, for example, knew God so intimately, but when he chose his own way, as in the case of Bathsheba, he lived spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically sick for a full year. He fought with everything he had in him to hide his sin and keep his image and honor intact. But in the end, he couldn’t do it anymore; he was dying inside. In his confession, he declared and passed on to us what God is looking for: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Some of us are naturally gifted and able. As such, we are in great danger of walking through our life and doing great things for God—all in our own strength. Only in the end will we find out that in spite of all our accomplishments, God could not use us to impart Christ’s tender, gentle, broken and creative life to others. No doubt our gifts and abilities are given to us by our Creator; however, they will only become useful in building God’s kingdom if we walk in humility and brokenness, depending on His strength instead of ours.
There is so little that God or anyone else can do for us as long as we manipulate circumstances, justify ourselves and fight every opportunity to be broken. The more we fight, the harder our hearts become. On the other hand, when we embrace brokenness, our hearts will become soft and pliable in the hand of God.
When we meet Christians who are broken, we notice their tenderness and that there is no harshness or demand in them. We feel a sense of peace when we are with them, and we are not afraid of them. They may not say much, but we perceive there is something more than words and right or wrong that guides their lives and causes them to radiate God’s peace.
Jesus, who is Almighty God, embraced humility and brokenness to such an extent that the prophetic Scripture describes Him, saying: “But I am a worm, and no man” (Psalm 22:6). Because He was completely yielded to the will of His Father, He was able to lay down His life for us and become our Savior.
Jesus desires that we cease from strife, walk in peace and produce eternal fruit. That’s why He invites us: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
The only way we experience this rest is when we cease from fighting to preserve ourselves, and embrace brokenness. No one can make this decision for us; there is no shortcut.
Books like by Roy Hession, by E. Stanley Jones and my book will be helpful resources you in walking in brokenness. But please understand: Reading alone will not be enough. You have to make this journey for yourself. And when you are willing to take Christ’s yoke upon you and embrace brokenness, the Lord will give you wisdom, guide you and walk right beside you. You will be surprised how peaceful your life will become!
My dear friend, there is nothing more significant that I can offer you from my own journey than the counsel to follow the footsteps of Jesus and embrace brokenness.